CBS/YouGov poll: Beto still doing about as well as you'd think after Uvalde stunt

AP Photo/Andres Leighton

Texans may not be completely enamored of Greg Abbott, but he’s clearly preferable to the alternative. CBS and YouGov polled the Lone Star State in the wake of the mass shooting in Uvalde and found that voters panned Abbott’s response and especially the performance of local law enforcement to the school shooting.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone under the circumstances:

A month after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texans are overwhelmingly critical of law enforcement’s response to the shooting, and a majority feel it’s important to investigate their response. Most Texans are concerned about another mass shooting.

Texans rate Gov. Abbott’s response to Uvalde more negatively than positively.

The poll also shows Abbott well underwater on job approval, 46/54. Normally, an incumbent executive with those numbers would be well advised to start looking for a good think-tank position in the following January. And yet …

More than half also disapprove of Abbott’s overall job performance, but Abbott still leads Beto O’Rourke by eight points among likely voters in the race for governor.

Despite only getting a 46% approval rating in this poll, Abbott gets 49% support on the election question. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke can only eke out 41% in the first CBS/YouGov polling look at the Texas gubernatorial race. That lines up exactly with O’Rourke’s RCP aggregate average in polling, and Abbott actually does slightly better than his 47.7% RCP average.

Abbott isn’t exactly bowling over Texans on issue ratings, either. He gets a 50/50 on the economy, 54/46 on education, and … is underwater everywhere else. And when I say “underwater,” I mean drowning. Abbott gets 27/73 approval on gas prices and 44/56 on the border crisis, both of which are significantly outside of Abbott’s control. But Abbott is also 43/57 on gun policy after Uvalde, 41/59 on abortion, and 37/63 on the status of Texas’ electrical grid, all of which are almost entirely in his portfolio.

Imagine a scenario where Abbott had to run against a serious Democratic nominee rather than a self-promoting clown like O’Rourke. That’s an especially acute question for Texas Democrats after O’Rourke’s stunt in Uvalde, in which he tried to hijack a press briefing on the massacre to cut a campaign ad. That took place five weeks ago, and has produced no groundswell of support. It hasn’t exactly eroded Beto’s polling either, but it’s becoming apparent that he has a ceiling in the low 40s even when paired one-on-one against a marginally unpopular incumbent.

What would this have looked like if Texas Democrats had drafted Henry Cuellar instead? Hmmm.

On the other hand, this poll looks pretty contradictory. CBS News uses it to report on how popular the components of John Cornyn’s bipartisan guns bill are:

Nearly half of Texans report that the Uvalde shooting has spurred them to support some gun restrictions, and there is support in Texas for some measures.

In backing many potential gun measures, Texas looks much like the nation as a whole.

We see bipartisan backing for measures like universal background checks and making the minimum age for buying an AR-15 at least 20 years old.

So Cornyn must be pretty danged popular around the corral, eh? Er …

Ted Cruz opposed all those measures and is significantly more popular in Texas. Well, at least significantly less unpopular. In fact, according to this survey, Cornyn’s even less popular than Joe Biden (41/59). I find that very difficult to believe, except in terms of just a short-term expression of frustration over Cornyn’s involvement in negotiating with Chris Murphy on the guns bill, which doesn’t actually restrict guns at all.

One has to wonder whether Abbott’s standing is understated as well. If Texans really thought Abbott was doing this poorly, even O’Rourke would get some traction. As it is, though, 55% of independents are sticking with Abbott, and Beto trails among both men and women and in every age demo. Maybe Abbott has a deep connection to voters even when they’re unhappy about his specific performance … or maybe Beto is just that bad.